Moderator Jordan Cantwell is halfway through her three-year term in office. She has a very ambitious plan for what she hopes to accomplish in her remaining 18 months in office, as she explains in this interview with Paul Russell.
Paul: 2016 was a busy period in the church’s life. How did you feel at the end of it?
Jordan: I was utterly exhausted at the end of last year. When the General Council Executive meeting at the end of November was done, I was done.
Paul: How did you re-energize?
Jordan: I travelled back to Saskatoon for a good long rest. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who allowed me the time for that, so I could come back here in January feeling fresh and renewed.
Paul: But I believe you had a few setbacks?
Jordan: Yes, I suffered some losses in my family, followed by a bout of the flu. So while my launch back into Moderatorial duties was somewhat hampered, my enthusiasm wasn’t. Still I’m very sorry to have missed some significant engagements during that time. I’m grateful that I was given a chance to recover, and now I’m ready to roll.
Paul: What’s first on your agenda?
Jordan: I’m about to leave on a very important trip to Manitoba, where I will participate in the Keewatin presbytery meeting in Winnipeg. Then I head further north in that province, to communities such as Garden Hill, God’s Lake, Nelson House, Oxford House, Red Sucker Lake, Thompson, South Indian Lake, and Wasagamack.
Paul: It’s not a great time of year to travel in the north, is it?
Jordan: It'll be cold for sure, but hopefully that means the ice roads will be open. Otherwise I’ll have to fly in to some of these areas.
Paul: Why is it important to you that you visit these remote areas?
Jordan: Many of these places have never had a visit from a current Moderator, so I feel incredibly privileged to have this opportunity. I’m really looking forward to just being present with the folks in these communities, to listen to their concerns, to share in their hopes and joys, and to worship together. I want to learn how our church can be more open to their needs and realities.
Paul: Is this trip part of your ongoing focus on reconciliation?
Jordan: Yes. In the next 18 months, I want to continue to visit as many Indigenous congregations as possible.
Paul: Why do you feel that is important?
Jordan: It is becoming absolutely clear to me that if our church wants to live into right relations — and if we are serious about implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within our church, and extracting ourselves from the legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery — we must think and act differently as a church going forward. Our priorities, assumptions, and expectations have to change. This will require commitment, courage, and humility on all of our parts, as we all need to be part of the work.
—Paul Russell is Communications Coordinator with the Office of the Moderator and General Secretary. He will continue to have conversations with the Moderator about her work, with excerpts from the conversations posted here on a regular basis.